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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a technique now widely used throughout the world to treat depression and migraine. Invented in the UK, scientists are studying its use to treat many other disorders.
Nerves carry signals around the body and can be electrically stimulated for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. However, the brain is difficult to stimulate non-invasively because electric current is largely stopped by the high electrical resistance of the skull.
Large pulses of magnetic field, which pass straight though the skull, can be used to induce currents in the brain and stimulate it without pain or side effects.
Tony Barker, who led the group which invented the TMS technique, will describe the history of the technique, the physics principles on which it is based and some of its clinical applications, as well as providing a practical demonstration.
Professor Tony Barker retired from the NHS earlier this year after 38 years in the Sheffield Department of Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering. He has specialised in a number of research areas during his NHS career, including the effects of electromagnetic fields on the body (both detrimental and therapeutic), electrical stimulation of nerves, Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) and medical device development.
As well as leading the group which invented the TMS technique, Tony led the group which developed the first self-optimising, array based FES stimulator for foot drop. He is the long-standing chairman of the Biological Effects of Low-Level Electromagnetic Fields Policy Advisory Group of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.